T Nation

Program Questions

After a few months of non focused lifting by me, I’ve decided that I want to make a real go of becoming stronger and bigger.

I’ve decided to make a program for myself. I’ve gathered a long list of lifts that I’d like to incorporate into my program, but I have a few questions to help me get started building the best one possible.

What’s the best split for overall strength and muscle development? (Upper Lower, or Full Body)

In what set/rep range should I be working in. I was thinking of staying in a proven 5x5 pattern. But that has some gray areas too. Should I be lifting all of my lifts 5x5 or just my exclusive first lift?

Right now I’m just taking protein after workouts. Anything I should take pre workout?

How many times should I be hitting a muscle group per workout?

If you guys have any other input or advice feel free to add it.


If you’re just starting out, I would recommend doing Rippietoe’s starting strength routine for a few months. You’ll see good gains, and you’ll get a feel for how a good program is designed. From there, you can move on to a 5x5 program like Bill Star’s or Madcows, try something from Westside, or design your own.

As far as protein intake, I’d take a shake about an hour before lifting if you can’t get some solid food in, and then take a post workout shake like Surge immediately afterwards.

I’m going to chime in and say that full body (push/pull/press/leg & some iso work) works great for people that can lift 3x a week. This way your hitting your whole body; hard, 3x a week.

5x5 is great for your main lifts.

bench/deadlift/squat (and their variations) will get you alot stronger.

eat plenty of GOOD food and get plenty of rest.

worry about supplements after you get the lifting/diet nailed down.

I am one of the minority who believes in the versatility of upper/lower. Full body is arguably the best method for for strength and neural development while an upper/lower attempts to gain success in both respects. And body part splits have anecdotally been shown to be the most prominent form of muscular development.

Since it appears that you are close to a true beginner; I would recommend either full body three times a week(think Rippteo’s) or an upper/lower 4 days a week focusing on the big compound movements.

About the only way you will go wrong with 5x5 is when you fail to recognize when it is time for a change.

I doubt you are neurally efficient enough at this point in time to benefit from a full bodypart split.

To summarize what Brock said:

I like body part splits because I know it takes me more than 2 days to recover from heavy squats and deads. The more you vary your routine, the more learning your body must do, which lengthens recovery time (which means, more growth).

I have time to work out more than 3x a week to give focus to different parts. Just my two.